Mental illnesses can be genetic , that is, you can inherit them from your parents or from any family member. However, not all of these pathologies are completely genetic, but there are many other factors that contribute to the condition , such as environmental factors, lifestyle, etc. Still, there are chances that these mental disorders run in families and are passed down. In this regard, it should be noted that when we talk about mental and genetic illnesses we are not talking about a single gene, but rather that these illnesses often tend to be polygenic .
In addition to not having a single specific factor or causative gene, “inherited” mental illnesses are a combination of environmental and genetic factors, known as “multifactorial” inheritance.
In disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there is a strong pattern of genetic inheritance: if a member of your family has the disorder, your chances are significantly higher than in the rest of the population .
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive depression, is a mental illness that causes fluctuations or swings in mood, affecting energy and basic ability to function normally. People with bipolar disorder endure extreme emotional states known as episodes, which occur over days or weeks. The two types of mood episodes are manic or hypomanic (abnormally happy or angry mood) and depressives . People with bipolar disorder also have periods of normal mood, known as euthymia, but manic and depressive episodes are more noticeable.
People, in general, have mood swings, but the difference with respect to those with bipolarity lies in the severity and duration of these changes . Under normal conditions, mood swings last a day or a few hours, but in bipolar disorder, mood swings are extreme and can last for really long periods.
Types of bipolar disorder
Three different types of bipolar disorder are commonly discussed, differentiated based on the intensity and pattern of emotional fluctuations, as well as the types of mood episodes.
When a person has had at least one manic episode, they are diagnosed with type 1 bipolar disorder . A “manic” episode is understood as feeling extremely “high”, euphoric, irritable or energetic for no apparent reason, that is, a wild or extreme emotion. Generally, these manic episodes are preceded or followed by a hypomanic episode (same features as the manic episode but with less intensity) or a depressive episode. It should be noted that people with bipolar 1 disorder have an extraordinary tendency to feel on top of things or uncomfortably angry during a manic episode.
Bipolar 2 Disorder is characterized by a sequence of depressive and hypomanic episodes, with few if any manic or severe episodes, which are characteristic of Bipolar 1 Disorder. A hypomanic episode may seem charming and charming to the public. even that it improves performance at work or studies, but people with bipolar disorder of this type usually need therapy after their first depressive episode. Like type 1, there are also periods of euthymia between depressive episodes. This type of bipolar disorder is often confused with major depression when no manic or hypomanic episode has yet appeared.
Cyclothymic disorder is a milder variant of bipolar disorder, characterized by recurrent “mood swings” and symptoms of hypomania and depression. Basically, these are less drastic and milder emotional ups and downs than the previous two subtypes. To consider this diagnosis, depressive symptoms must be present for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents), and several periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms (without reaching major depression).
Bipolar disorder has well-defined symptoms that can often be confused with the bad mood of any other day , one of those days when you don’t feel like yourself. There are several signs that may indicate that you have bipolar disorder.
During a depressive episode , the bipolar person usually feels upset, sad or without hope in life , irritable, having difficulty concentrating on things, feeling a lack of energy to carry out activities, strong desire to go to bed and stay home, among others . You may also feel empty inside, feel guilty for various reasons, or have a pessimistic approach towards your life. In some cases they may suffer from delusions or hallucinations, which makes it difficult for them to stay in reality. Loss of appetite or insomnia during depressive phases is also common.
On the other hand, during a manic episode , the person may experience a sense of complete happiness, an exaggeratedly positive, euphoric, and joyous attitude . You may have a lot of energy, feel on top of the world, excel at school, college or work, have innovative ideas, be more creative, etc. However, they can also be distracted, easily irritated or annoyed, as well as not sleeping well due to the hyperactivity and anxiety that sometimes surrounds them. In some cases, the person behaves differently than usual, that is, they act out of the ordinary and do things that are unusual for them.
Bipolar disorder pattern
When you have bipolar disorder, you may experience more periods of depression than mania, or the opposite ; more mania less depression. Let’s not forget that you can also have periods of “normal” mood, of euthymia, between episodes of depression and mania.
Patterns do not usually follow a predefined pattern . Some people may have rapid cycling , a symptom of bipolar disorder in which the person rapidly goes from a high period to a low period with no “normal” phase in between; Other people may have mixed episodes, that is, have signs of depression and mania at the same time, such as excessive activity combined with depressed mood. In short, each person is a world, and bipolarity in people is not an exception, each person is affected differently and depending on where they are in their life.
Diagnosis and treatment
If you suspect that you may have bipolar disorder, your doctor may perform certain diagnostic tests to confirm or disprove your suspicions .
To begin with, they will perform a general examination of your body, both a physical examination and a blood test, in order to rule out other pathologies or problems that may be causing your symptoms. In case he shares your suspicions, he will refer you to a psychiatrist for a psychiatric evaluation , where you will express your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns, and they will be analyzed with your help.
After the psychiatric evaluation, they may ask you to keep a diary with reflections, sleep habits, moods and any other aspect of your day-to-day that worries you, this can help with the diagnosis and the choice of the most appropriate therapy.
As for treatment options, there is no “one size fits all” , but they tend to be quite individualized and adapted to each person and situation . Therefore, if you suspect that this may be your case, it is advisable that you visit a specialist in bipolarity, who will give you an exhaustive check-up and prescribe medications, daily treatment plans or continuous and regular treatment throughout your life.
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